SpyCast 4.9.24
Ep 628 | 4.9.24

“The Director-General of NZ Security Intelligence Service” – with Andrew Hampton


Andrew Hammond: Welcome to SpyCast, the official podcast of the International Spy Museum. My name is Dr. Andrew Hammond, the museum's historian and curator. Each week, we explore some aspect of the past, present, or future of intelligence and espionage. If you enjoy the episode, please consider leaving us a five-star review. If you want to dig deeper into the content, you can find links to further resources, suggested readings, and full transcripts at cyberwire.com/podcast/spycast. Coming up next on SpyCast.

Andrew Hampton: When we see activity that is inconsistent with our values as a country, we're prepared to stand up for it and call it out. But it's not -- it's not binary. You know, these are complex and nuanced relationships.

Andrew Hammond: This week's guest is Andrew Hampton, Director General of New Zealand' Security Intelligence Service. In everyday language, he oversees the collection and analysis of intelligence to keep New Zealand and its citizens safe. He was previously the Director General of the Government Communications and Security Bureau. That is the branch of New Zealand Intelligence that takes the lead on signals intelligence and cybersecurity. Here's what you'll take away from this week's episode: How New Zealand does intelligence. What the world looks like from the southwestern Pacific. The role that geography plays in national security. The lasting impact of the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks. New Zealand's complex relationship with China, and Five Eyes and the power of community organization. The original podcast on intelligence since 2006, we are SpyCast. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Well, thanks ever so much for coming to speak to me this morning. I'm really happy that you're here, and we've never had a New Zealander on the show before. So I'm really pleased that that's something that we're rectifying. So I think it would be good just to start off, Andrew. Tell us a little bit more about your role, Director General of Security.

Andrew Hampton: Well, hi, Andrew, and firstly, thank you for the opportunity to come and talk today. I am a regular listener of the podcast. I learn a lot from it. So it's good to be able to talk a little bit about the role of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and the New Zealand Intelligence community. So my role, I'm the Director General of the NZSIS. The Maori name of our organization is Te Pa Whakamarumaru, which means "the citadel that protects the village." And that's really what we do. We're an intelligence and security agency. We really have three functions. So the first function is around identifying, investigating, assessing, and mitigating threats to New Zealand. And there our focus is primarily in counter-espionage, and counter-info interference, and responding to violent extremism and terrorism. Our focus is primarily domestic, but we do follow through where those threats come from. So that's our first role. Our second role is we have a protective security mandate. So that is about providing advice and services to other government organizations, and increasingly, organizations across New Zealand on how they can better protect themselves from national security threats. That includes running the security vetting process for the New Zealand government. And then, our third role is we have a foreign intelligence human mandate. So whilst our focus is primarily domestic, we are the human foreign intelligence agency. So part of that is intelligence collection, but increasingly, it's about intelligence diplomacy, and it's about working with our partners in the Pacific region, in particular, to help them build their resilience. Prior to this role, just for context, I ran the Government Communication Security Bureau. Te Tira Tiaki is the Maori name for that organization, and that was -- or that is -- New Zealand's signal intelligence agency and cybersecurity agency. So it's more externally focused, more focused on the electronic world.

Andrew Hammond: I like that, the village in the citadel. So I would like to just put a pin in the citadel for a moment and talk a little bit about the village.

Andrew Hampton: Yeah.

Andrew Hammond: So we are the International Spy Museum, and our audience for the podcast is global. So just very briefly, tell them a little bit more about New Zealand for people that are a bit rusty on this.

Andrew Hampton: All right. So New Zealand or Aotearoa, New Zealand, to use its Maori name, was established as a country in 1840 with a treaty called the Treaty of Waitangi between the Maori tribes, who were there first, and the British Crown, and that created our country. So at the basis of our country as a nation is a notion of partnership. It hasn't always been honored but this, this idea of partnering, of working with others, is a key feature of New Zealand. We are in the South Pacific, and I think for a long time, there was a view that our geographical isolation protected us from a range of national security threats. But unfortunately, in the current world, geostrategic competition is playing out in our region. Going back to my old role, you're only one click away from a cyberattack. And of course, dis- and misinformation and violent extremism are permeating the whole world. So, you know, in some respects, we're a bit removed from the rest of the world and others. The types of threats we face are very similar. We have a population of about 5 million people. About 70% of those are like me, they have European ancestry. The Maori population is 15 or 16% and growing. We have quite a large Pacifica population. Auckland is actually the biggest Pacifica city in the world, in terms of Pacific people, and we have a -- we have had Asian people in New Zealand since the gold rushes of the 1860s, but we have an increasingly growing and diverse Asian population, as well. In terms of our economy, we are a country that trades with the rest of the world. And that was traditionally primarily produce, but today, our tech sector is, actually, our second-biggest export earner and has grown eight times faster than other sectors. So that's a bit of a flavor of who we need to protect.

Andrew Hammond: I remember as a boy growing up in Scotland we always had New Zealand butter and New Zealand lamb, but it's a bit more complicated than that. Just really briefly, again, when you say Pacifica people -- a lot of our listeners may not know what that refers to. Is this the islands that are to the east of New Zealand, northeast? Or are we talking about something else?

Andrew Hampton: I guess a way to locate it for our global audience is we're talking primarily about the Southwest Pacific. So, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. So, there's 14 different states there. Some are very, you know, are comparatively large countries like Papua New Guinea. Others are very, very small, with just a few thousand inhabitants, but they are all sovereign countries. They are all different. But as I touched on earlier, we're seeing geostrategic competition playing out in that region in a way that we probably haven't since the Second World War, and that leads to a range of challenges. There's other challenges as well, though. Climate change, transnational crime, economic challenges following COVID which all create some vulnerabilities to those Pacific states. And so, that's why New Zealand sees itself as having a key role in partnering with those states to help them respond to those challenges.

Andrew Hammond: Are most of those states democracies?

Andrew Hampton: They're all democracies, but different types of democracies. So a country like Pongal, it has an elected parliament, but it has a hereditary king, for example.

Andrew Hammond: Wow. So there's variations of democracy there, okay.

Andrew Hampton: Yeah.

Andrew Hammond: And just, again, very briefly, mainly it's a North Island and a South Island. Is that correct?

Andrew Hampton: Yes. So two main islands. The North Island is the most populous one. South Island, where I come from, less populous. But there are a number of other smaller islands including Stewart Island, which is right at the bottom of the country, and also the Chatham Islands, which are several hundred kilometers out in the sea from New Zealand.

Andrew Hammond: And the distance between the North Island and the South Island, is there a bridge over it? Do you have to take a ferry? How far is it?

Andrew Hampton: You have to take a ferry. So it's probably a three or four-hour ferry ride, but that's not because it's a great distance. It's just you need to navigate the various harbors and sounds to get there. You can fly in 20 minutes between the two islands.

Andrew Hammond: So it's like the English Channel or something maybe?

Andrew Hampton: Yeah, yes. But probably even shorter, but the seas can be --

Andrew Hammond: Much choppier.

Andrew Hampton: -- can rough, but you have to, on both sides, navigate through various sounds in order to get to the harbors. So in some ways, it's similar to, you know, some of the Scandinavian countries with their fields and the like.

Andrew Hammond: I remember watching Billy Connolly once, and he was talking about the Scottish immigrants that went to New Zealand and how they were on North Island, and the weather was just a bit too nice for them. And they just kept going further and further south, and when they had the rain and the dampness and the greenness, they were like, were home.

Andrew Hampton: That's exactly it. If you go to a city like Dunedin in the South Island, you would see strong parallels with places like Edinburgh. It was deliberately set up as a Scottish settlement. In Canterbury, that was to be an English settlement. Of course, the indigenous people were there first, Maori people, and you know, our cultures evolved through a blending and integration of those different heritages.

Andrew Hammond: Well, I think that's quite helpful, and I want to come back to talk about the region more generally. But I think it would be useful, at this point, to pivot back to the Citadel. So it sounds like from the way you described it, it's performing a number of different functions that, say, in the UK would be performed by both MI6 and MI5. So there's counter-intelligence, counter-espionage, counter-terrorism, but then, there's also human intelligence and so forth. So just -- what is the portfolio of things that it does? There's also the covert action, intelligence analysis, just to help us understand the breakdown of what the security intelligence service does?

Andrew Hampton: So you're exactly right. We have a very similar mandate to MI5. So they would be our closest partners in the UK system. Like them, we're primarily an intelligence security agency. We're not an enforcement agency. We work with enforcement agencies such as police, and as I touched on before, you know, the key threats that we are focused on, I can unpack this a bit more for you in detail is around that foreign interference, and espionage, and violent extremism, and terrorism. But we do have this foreign intelligence mandate, human mandate. So that is like MI6 or CIA or ACIS in the Australian system. But it is a smaller part of our role. My old agency, the Government Communication Security Bureau, had a much greater foreign intelligence collection role, being a second agency. But we do leverage our domestic security role, particularly our work around developing systems and processes to help protect New Zealand organizations. We do leverage that internationally. So when we engage with our Pacific partners, it's not just about intelligence collection around, you know, the threats to the region. It's around how we can help them respond to those threats. In terms of what we actually do, yep, we have the whole suite of functions here. I'll talk about our security intelligence role. You know, we have the suite of functions that you would expect a human agency to have. We have a range of collection capabilities, many of them covert, but increasingly, as with our partners, we do work with that, with open-source information. We have an investigative function, and you know, this is different to a law enforcement agency in that, you know, we collect intelligence to assess are there threats there? So that may well mean that we assess that there is not a threat there, and we can, you know, close that file. We don't have to have probable cause to do it. At the same time, we don't undertake enforcement functions. We also, though, do assessments. So NZSIS hosts an organization called CTAG, the Combined Threat Assessment Group, and we do things like undertake a terrorist threat level assessment. And I've just signed off on the latest assessment a wee while ago. So we do all of that stuff. But coming back to what I said about partnerships, we really focus on how we can maximize our impact by working with others. So we work closely with other government agencies. Obviously, our partner agency, the Bureau, the police, and a whole range of other New Zealand organizations are often customers for our products and services. But increasingly, we're looking at ways to partner with others. You know, how can we work with private sector organizations to provide more information to them? So they can better protect themselves with community groups, with Maori organizations, because national security won't work if it's just left to organizations like us to do it for them. So one of our key, sort of, strategic mantras is, we're about providing impact for and with others. National security is not something that we do to people. It's ideally something that we do for and with people and organizations.

Andrew Hammond: Could you give our listeners an example that you're able to talk about where some of your portfolio of responsibilities come to bear?

Andrew Hampton: Okay, so last year, we produced our first public threat assessment, and this was in response to the terrible mosque attacks in 2019. And one of the findings of the Royal Commission into those mosque attacks was that national security agencies need to do a better job at talking to the community about the nature of the threats that we face, both to build trust and confidence in the agencies, but also, as I was talking about before, so organizations, community groups, citizens, can play more of a role in national security. So in that report, we had a number of case studies. So it talked about particular individuals, for example, who we were working with our partners who had identified were on a pathway to mobilization to violence and talked about the steps we took with others to mitigate that. What we've seen in New Zealand, and this is common to our partners, is that violent extremist threatscape is getting increasingly complex. So you have individuals who are motivated, you know, by some distorted faith-based ideology, but we're also seeing, obviously, an increase in identity motivated violent extremism. You know, the incels, the white identity extremists. Politically motivated violent extremists as well, though, is a feature, particularly post-pandemic. But one of the trends we are seeing, which is most concerning, and it's talked about in our threat assessment, is individuals, often very young individuals, with very personalized ideologies, shopping around between different ideologies to really find some sort of justification to undertake violent activity. And so, several of the individuals who we identified and worked with others to take mitigations fitted within that category. We call them mixed, unclear, unstable ideologies. And they are a real concern to us because they don't adhere to a particular group. We have a huge volume of, you know, hateful rhetoric online. Most of it will never actually translate into activities. So how do you sift through it looking for it?

Andrew Hammond: So the -- in 2019 when this happened, were you at the GCSB --

Andrew Hampton: Yes, I was.

Andrew Hammond: -- in your previous position?

Andrew Hampton: Yes. Yes, so the mosque attacks in 2019 resulted in 51 people being murdered during prayer, and this has had a huge impact on our Muslim community. It's had a huge impact on the country as a whole. Not a day goes by where I or my organization does not think about the 51 people who were killed, the survivors, their families, and the trauma that they still carry. The perpetrator of those attacks was a white-identity motivated extremist, someone who had come to our country with the deliberate intention of undertaking an attack. Now there was a significant Royal Commission into those attacks, as there should be. It found that there -- it concluded that there was not a failure by any agency that would have somehow prevented that attack or found that person by chance. But we take no satisfaction from that. Fifty-one people were killed. The Royal Commission came up, though, with a range of findings and lessons learned, and one of those, which all New Zealand agencies take very seriously, was that up until 2018, no agency, including the Service, had actually undertaken any systematic work on identity-based violent extremism. The Service actually had started a bit of work in that area the year before the attack, but other than that, there had been no systematic assessment of, well, what is the -- how much resource should be focused on faith-based violent extremists versus identity-based violent extremists or the rest? So we have done a lot of work to ensure that both, as an agency, but across the intelligence system, that we are constantly reviewing where our focus should be. So currently, the service spends about a third of its investigative effort on each of those different types of violent extremism, the faith-based, the identity-based, the politically motivated. Now that changes, but it's roughly a third. Similarly, we devote about half of our investigative effort to violent extremism versus foreign interference and espionage. There are a range of other findings from the Royal Commission. One of them, as I've already touched on, is the need for the agencies to be more open. And that had always been a priority for me, but it's something that I've really focused on: the need for us to have strong relationships with community groups. Partly so those community groups, including our Muslim community, our Jewish community, our Pacifica community, our Maori communities, that they understand what we do and have confidence in what we do, but also, so we understand what national security looks like from their perspectives because they may be experiencing threats different from the rest of the world. And of course, with over 20% of our leads coming from community groups, we want those groups to feel confident that if they raise concerns with us, that they will be taken seriously. And then, there were some recommendations around machinery of government, around how can the New Zealand organizations be better integrated and aligned?

Andrew Hammond: Here's a short interlude to help you understand this episode in a deeper historical context. New Zealand participated in the two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. World War I had a major impact on New Zealand society. At the time, 1914-18, the country's population was just one million people; yet 100,000 of them served overseas, and one in five who served abroad did not return. In the Second World War, meanwhile, over 200,000 New Zealanders served overseas in theatres as far afield as Italy, Egypt, and Japan. One in 150 New Zealanders lost their lives in World War II, and New Zealand was involved in the war for all but three of the war's 2,179 days. Eleven New Zealanders would win the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for bravery, similar in the States to the Medal of Honor in World War I, and eight of them would win it in World War II. In fact, in World War II, one of them, Captain Charles Upham, would become one of only three people in the history of the award to win it, in Crete in 1941, and then again in Egypt in 1942, whereupon he was captured and held prisoner for the rest of the war in the infamous Colditz Castle in East Germany. Despite the multiple injuries he sustained during the war, he lived out the rest of his life as a farmer on the South Island of New Zealand before dying in 1994 at the grand old age of 86. Just when you were talking there about people that shop around for extremist ideas, it just made me think briefly. I think, as a species, we're still catching up with the internet, the fusion and continual presence of ideas. Before in the past, the Red Army faction, other extremist groups in the 20th century, you would have to go and read the books. You would have to get your library card out. You would have to go to meetings or join a cult or something. Now you can just sit in your bedroom and go from one ideology to the next one until you can hang all of your dissatisfaction with the universe on top of it.

Andrew Hampton: That's exactly it, and that, you know, we have had individuals who have seen go on escalation paths, which may have started with ISIL sympathies and moved to white identity extremism, for example. We have seen individuals who, you know, may have no connection with, you know, any sort of faith-based organization who are inspired by, you know, extremist propaganda. But what seems to be driving them most is the fixation with violence. As the information environment becomes more saturated with more hateful rhetoric, it's actually harder to spot the ones of real concern from a violent extremist perspective.

Andrew Hammond: It's fascinating. That could be a whole separate podcast. So we've covered your role at your agency, New Zealand as a country, and I think it would be interesting just to get back to the structure of intelligence in New Zealand. So --

Andrew Hampton: Yeah.

Andrew Hammond: -- you mentioned your previous agency and your current agency. What other agencies are there?

Andrew Hampton: Okay. So we talk about the New Zealand intelligence community having three core agencies, NZSIS, intelligence and security, primarily domestically, focused protective security mandate, human foreign intelligence and diplomacy, intelligence diplomacy and, you know, helping to build resilience. GCSB, Signals Intelligence Agency, primarily foreign focused, significant cybersecurity mandate, including delivering a whole range of cybersecurity services to New Zealand organizations to help protect them. Third player in the core is the National Security Group within our Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. So they do coordination. They also are our primary assessment organization. They provide advice to ministers on what our national security intelligence priorities should be. Our agencies don't set our own priorities. We respond to others, and they have leadership around national security policy and legislation. One of the recommendations of the Royal Commission was that that should be a standalone agency rather than part of the Prime Ministering Cabinet and that we should have a National Security Advisor, someone who that's their role. That's something that's still being considered. So they're the three key agencies, but there's a wider national security sector, which involves, as you would expect, the police, the defense forces, our customs and immigration services. The Treasury has an interest there, as well. And so, those agencies get together on a regular basis. The heads of those agencies is our National Security Board. So they are senior officials coordinating across government. At the ministerial level, we don't have a dedicated National Security Committee of ministers at this point, but we have an external relations committee who focus on these national security matters. But there is a subgroup of ministers that involves the minister for our agencies, the prime minister and others, who tend to provide the political leadership to the system. We then have, sticking at the political level, an Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. So that is a cross-party committee which has both the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition and the other senior politicians on it who provide both oversight to the agencies, but that's a very useful forum to have bipartisan discussions around national security. Just one last thing to just talk about, to close off quickly when we're talking about how the agencies are organized, there's a particular feature of my current organization in NZSIS and the GCSB is we are very integrated in terms of our enablement functions. So we share finance and facilities, HR enablement technology, sort of policy and ministerial services. They are all shared between the two agencies. So we sometimes talk about it as a sort of a three-legged race. We are separate agencies with our own capabilities and our own areas of focus, but we join up. And there's always challenges there, but huge benefits, as well, in terms of alignment. It's helped by the fact that since 2017 we've had the same piece of legislation, and we have a common minister.

Andrew Hammond: So you report to the minister? Is that correct?

Andrew Hampton: Yes. So we are just like any other government agency, in that we are public servants. We serve the government of the day, and I've served different ministers and different governments. We've recently had an election. Of course, if -- I do serve at their pleasure, so if there was a significant problem, I would need to be accountable for that. But no, we are apolitical. And so, the minister is the person who needs to authorize our activities, who's, you know, responsible back to Parliament for activities that we undertake, including our financial accountabilities and the like. But my appointment is actually not made by a minister, it's made by an organization called the Public Service Commission, which is the agency within the New Zealand Government which is responsible for running the public service essentially. At that minister level, our primary customer, if you like, is our minister. But I do brief the Prime Minister regularly on national security matters. We have regular meetings to do that. And again, we often do that in a joined-up way with our GCSB colleagues and our DPMC colleagues. Also, in our system, we are required by law to brief the leader of the opposition, which I think is one of the real strengths. So we brief them on national security matters, as well.

Andrew Hammond: And it's a parliamentary system like the UK where MPs are elected, and the Prime Minister will emanate from amongst them if they have their correct support?

Andrew Hampton: Yes. We are very much a Westminster system in that regard, with a couple of differences from the UK. We don't have an upper house. So we just have one house of Parliament, and we also have a mixed-member proportional representation electoral system, so similar to Germany, and we've had that since 1996. So that means, with one exception, we've had coalition governments.

Andrew Hammond: So just to touch on the history of intelligence in New Zealand, is this similar to Australia where there's Soviet penetrations in the 1950s, which leads to calls for, listen, we need to do something more systematic about this? And then it's the NZSIS, but differently from the British SIS, the Secret Intelligence Service in New Zealand, it's the Security Intelligence Service. So is there a British connection there? Tell us a little bit more about the genesis of it.

Andrew Hampton: Okay. So, except for a brief period in World War II, sort of security intelligence was done by the New Zealand police. Then in 1956, the New Zealand Security Service was established, which is a predecessor of our organization. So it came out of a special branch in the police force. And it had a focus on espionage, what was called subversion, sabotage. And yes, it was in that Cold War context, particularly focused on threats posed by USSR. In 1969, we got our first legislation. Up until then, there was no specific legislative basis for it. And that's when the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service was formed, 1969. Just like, you know, with, you know, other jurisdictions, the Berlin Wall came down. I think there was a view that it was a more benign security environment then. But then September 11 happened, and there was very much a focus on counter-terrorism. You had the attacks in Indonesia and in London. You know, New Zealanders are everywhere. You know, there's a million New Zealanders overseas at any one time. New Zealanders were, you know, there were New Zealanders killed in all of those attacks. So counter-terrorism became the primary focus, along with support to military operations as New Zealand deployed troops to Afghanistan and to Iraq. But we never took our eye completely off the foreign interference and the espionage risk. That had always been a focus for us. And, you know, as the 2000s started unfolding, you know, we as an agency, as a system, were aware of, you know, geostrategic competition as it was playing out in our region. And that has become an increasing focus. However, we then had the mosque attacks. And in 2019, we had another faith-based motivated attack where six people were stabbed in Auckland a couple of years ago, which reinforced that we can never take our eye off that violent extremist and terrorist threat. So, and you know, this might be a point of difference between some of our other agencies. Our investigative effort stays about 50-50 spread over those two areas, and I suspect it always will for some time. So, one of the challenges has been as a relatively small agency with that broad front to cover how do you build capabilities and expertise that allows you to pivot resources as the threats change, whilst keeping over those two main areas of focus?

Andrew Hammond: Here's another short interlude to help you understand New Zealand in greater context. New Zealand has the most successful men's international rugby site of all time, winning around 77% of their games going all the way back to 1903. They have spent more weeks at the top of the rugby world rankings than every other team combined. Not too bad for a country whose population numbers just over five million. By contrast, other rugby powerhouses have much larger populations. France has 67 million, South Africa 60, England 55, and Australia, just across the Tasman Sea from New Zealand, 26 million. The New Zealand team are nicknamed the All Blacks because, well, they play all in black. They are famous for the haka they do before every match they play, a Maori posture dance that involves the entire body in vigorous movements, swaying, slapping, stamping, chanting, fierce facial expressions and gestures of stylized violence. Google ka mate, k-a space m-a-t-e to see what I am talking about. You won't regret it. It's really something else. Just thinking about Five Eyes. So we've got these five countries that all have this alliance. It comes out of Signals Intelligence, comes out of the Second World War. You were in Palo Alto last year with leaders from other Five Eyes countries. So I've had a previous guest who said it's a little bit like Fight Club, no one likes to talk about it; everyone wants to join. How would you describe Five Eyes from the New Zealand point of view or your personal point of view?

Andrew Hampton: Five Eyes is fundamental to New Zealand's national security. We would not be able to replicate, come even close to it, the benefits we get from our Five Eyes partnerships, whether it be in the security intelligence world or the Signals world without it. Every country within the Five Eyes has their own national security priorities. Every country has their own legal frameworks. We cannot ask our Five Eyes partners to do anything that we can't legally do ourselves. Similarly, they can't ask us to do anything that we aren't permitted to do. So I think that's a point that's worth emphasizing. That they are five sovereign countries. But we have established, through long history, that we can all better fulfill our national interests by working together. And that's certainly helped by the fact that we have some common history, strong values alignment, but also, I think, an increasing view, common view around the threats that we face. Now having worked them both, the SIGINT side and the Security Intelligence side, they're a bit different. You know, the Five Eyes SIGINT system is very much like an enterprise. Every country's sovereign, but you know, very high levels of collaboration and information sharing in accordance with common standards, common technology, and their approach. On the security intelligence side, you have that same commitment to working together, that same emphasis on trusted relationships, but the infrastructure is a bit different, and partly that's because the mandates of the organizations are a bit different. You know, our mandate is different than FBI and the like. We're also, though, seeing the Five Eyes being more open both collectively and individually about why we exist, the nature if the threats we face.

Andrew Hammond: Let's go back to strategic competition, which you've mentioned a few times. So by strategic competition, we're talking the global chessboard. We're talking the Cold War where it was the free world against the communist world. The Cold War comes to an end, but now we're talking about China, foreign affairs, other generals here in the States, in this town, Washington, the rise of China. What does this mean for the United States and so forth? So what is going on in New Zealand's neighborhood with the quote-unquote "rise of China?"

Andrew Hampton: First point to make is New Zealand's benefited significantly from the rise of China. We have strong economic relations with China, and that will always, always be the case. Second point is we have also benefited hugely from the rules-based order where there is certainty and predictability around how states behave internationally. And, you know, there is a bit of a tension between those two things at the moment. So when we talk about strategic competition, it's about states seeking to impose their view of how that rules-based order should be on others. So, you know, New Zealand's general approach to the PRC is we cooperate where we can and are always looking for opportunities to cooperate. But in those areas where our interests, our values, don't align, we will call that out. We will seek to protect and preserve those interests. And the third point is around partnerships and alignment when it comes to national security, when it comes to, you know, societal values. You know, we have an affinity and an alignment with, you know, our traditional partners, which is fundamental. So, you know, what does this look like in practice? New Zealand has called out the People's Republic of China. We've called out Russia. We've called out Iran for malicious cyberactivity in the past, both globally and targeting New Zealand. Similarly, in our threat assessment that we released last year, we expressed a lot of concern about foreign interference. And that was both targeting the political system, but also, targeting diaspora communities. And we named People's Republic of China, Russia, and Iran as being countries of concern, not the only countries of concern, but those of particular concern to us. So that's an example of notwithstanding that important economic relationship that we value, when we see activity that isn't consistent with our values as a country, we're prepared to stand up for it and call it out. But it's not binary. You know, these are complex and nuanced relationships. Our role as an intelligence and security agency is ensuring that decisionmakers have the right information so they're clear-eyed about those relationships, and that organizations, they have information and expertise so they can protect themselves from those national security challenges as they navigate that world. But New Zealand can't opt out of that world. We can't opt out of the threats. They will impact us despite our geographical isolation. Similarly, we can't opt out of the world economy. We're a trading nation. We need to make money in the world.

Andrew Hammond: I find this really fascinating. There's a by Churchill from the Second World War where he's saying, you know, if we could theoretically hold the island of Britain and park it off of the coast of Newfoundland, our world view would be extremely different. But because of where we are, that's the world we live in, and there's certain realities that are part of living there. So I think what you're saying is New Zealand can't be off the coast of California or something.

Andrew Hampton: I think, you know, after the world wars and the like, there possibly was a view that New Zealand is a bit removed from, you know, other parts of the world. You know, we had a Prime Minister only 20 years ago saying New Zealand exists primarily in a benign strategic environment. If that ever was the case, it's not the case now. We're seeing geostrategic competition play out in our region in ways that we haven't for a long, long time. We're seeing foreign interference occurring in New Zealand. In the cyber world, a malicious cyber act is just a click away wherever you live, but also, things like violent extremism and dis- and misinformation can be circulated around the world at a, you know, again, at the tap of a keyboard. So that's why we need to think about our national security in those global terms, whilst mindful that, you know, how it plays out in our country, in our region, will be a bit different than it does elsewhere because of our history, our culture, our geographical location.

Andrew Hammond: And in your region, is there this idea of bandwagoning? So people have thought about international relations when you have the rise of one power and it's getting stronger and stronger. And not every country that gets stronger and stronger gets more aggressive, but sometimes that does happen. When that happens, the countries around it bandwagon together to try to protect themselves against this rising, more aggressive country. So I think that you need to be careful discussing this, right, because we don't want to demonize China. Chinese culture has contributed so much to the history of our species, and China as a country is different from the Chinese Communist Party, and so forth. But the reality is if you just look at the facts on the ground, you know, what's happening in the South China Sea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, there are certain patterns of behavior. So are you seeing states in your region, it could even be the Pacific States, and you, and Australia, and the United States, or is it kind of pushing you all closer together to say, listen, we need to think about what's going on here?

Andrew Hampton: I think there is a real danger in thinking about things in binary terms. One country is good or bad. It's about recognizing that there's complex relationships here, and you need to be clear-eyed about the risk when you navigate that. So I think that's the first point. The second point, I really want to reiterate what you've said. You know, we were very deliberate in our threat assessment to talk about the threats posed by governments and the security agencies to New Zealand and to our region, not to the people of those countries, and certainly, not to the diaspora communities that exist in New Zealand. Often, those diaspora communities are actually the target of some of that foreign interference. Look, in terms of, you know, this notion of coming together. You know, when values align or when those shared values are under threat, there is a real benefit in being able to both call that out collectively, and we've seen some recent examples of that, but also, to take collective action. Obviously, there's a force multiplier component to that, but also, it gives a message that, you know, this rules-based international system that we've all benefited from is important to us, and we're prepared to stand up for it. In the Pacific, you know, you've -- the thing I really want to stress there is you have 14 different countries with different cultures, different interests, and, you know, it's no secret because it's in the media. Some of those countries are, you know, emphasizing that relationship with China. We've seen, recently, a number of Pacific states over the last few years change their recognition, diplomatic recognition, from Taiwan to China. So I think that's evidence of that. But you've also seen plenty of examples of Pacific states saying, look, you know, we don't want to get sucked into one camp or other. You know, we want to be friends to all, and that's understandable when they're facing climate change, when they're facing transnational crime and deprivation. And that's why we welcome all countries expressing an interest in our region and providing support. What we expect, though, is that other countries will undertake activities in ways that it's consistent with the rules-based order, that they'll respect the agency of those countries to make their own decisions. And so, part of our role is just, you know, when we see that not happening, we share that information, and we also support those states, many of whom are very small, to increase the robustness of their organization -- of their organization's resilience, so you know, they are less susceptible to sort of malign influence. But again, can't stress enough, it's not a binary thing. If we get into a binary situation, no one's going to win.

Andrew Hammond: Yeah. Just for our listeners, how far is New Zealand from Australia so they get a sense of scale?

Andrew Hampton: Well, it's only a three-and-a-half hour flight from, from Wellington, where I live, to Sydney or to Auckland. So we're pretty -- we're pretty close to Australia. Indeed, Sydney and Melbourne and Canberra are much closer to Wellington and Auckland and Christchurch than they are to, you know, Perth or other parts of Australia. So, you know, geographically we are close to them. I think a point of difference is, you know, Australia is a lot closer to Asia than we are. I had a colleague who, again, when reflecting on, you know, the geostrategic environment we're in is, you know, you know, Australia, they get up and, you know, they look to the north, and they see Asia. We look to the north, and we see Australia or, you know, to the northwest at least.

Andrew Hammond: Sure.

Andrew Hampton: Yeah.

Andrew Hammond: And how far away, if you know, the southern tip of New Zealand, how far away is that from Antarctica?

Andrew Hampton: In terms of kilometers, I don't know, but we have responsibility for a slice of Antarctica. And yeah, we are concerned that that's becoming a forum for geostrategic competition, as well. So we are strong advocates for maintaining the rules-based order down there as well.

Andrew Hammond: That's why I bring it up. We hear a lot now about the Arctic, Antarctica, as areas of strategic competition. So I bring this up because I know that New Zealand, compared to most other countries in the world is a lot closer to Antarctica than Scotland. I personally think it's really fascinating.

Andrew Hampton: So, you know, there's a treaty arrangement in place in Antarctica, which identifies particular areas where different countries are responsible for. There's international legal arrangements to ensure that Antarctica can't be militarized. That research done there can only be for scientific purposes and the like. And New Zealand is very committed to ensuring that stays the case. We are aware, though, that, you know an increasing number of countries have interests in that region and that continent, including ones a long way away from that region, and, you know, are undertaking, you know, scientific activity and the like, which, you know, we are concerned may have dual uses. I'm not an expert in the international relations component of it, but New Zealand is very active in that space. But without going into too much detail, you could probably expect that from an intelligence and security perspective, both my current agency and my previous agency have a strong interest in what's happening down there.

Andrew Hammond: That's what I was thinking, yeah. I'm imagining that at least a couple of memos have came across your desk that have referenced Antarctica.

Andrew Hampton: Yes, and this is not just a recent phenomenon, as well. You know, we have traditionally had an intelligence focus there.

Andrew Hammond: And just as we get towards the end of the interview, if people from New Zealand are listening to this interview, what message would you give to them? So as somebody that's been at the summit of two different New Zealand intelligence agencies, what would you say to them?

Andrew Hampton: The points that I emphasize are ones we've already touched on. That New Zealand is a country that its prosperity, its way of life, depend on us being connected with the rest of the world, with the free flow of people, information, and ideas across our border. And I think most New Zealanders would agree with that. But with that openness, with that free flowing of information, ideas, and people comes some threats, and we all have a role in helping to mitigate and manage those threats. So, you know, my agency, the New Zealand intelligence community as a whole, we are there to help better inform the public and better equip the public so they can help navigate that complex world, get all the benefits of the international rules-based order, trade, and prosperity, but in a way where they don't expose themselves or their country to national security threats, which maybe in the past, we could rely on our geographical location to mitigate to a certain extent, but in today's world, we certainly can't.

Andrew Hammond: And there's so much things that we could have touched on that we don't have time to, economic espionage, artificial intelligence, cyber. I've heard you speak about them before, and I don't know, maybe for a future visit, Andrew. Two final, quick questions. Who invented the flat weight? Was it New Zealand or Australia? There are different points of view.

Andrew Hampton: I probably need Mike Berg on board for this one. I heard he was at an event I was at recently. He was claiming credit for Australia inventing something that I think -- I think it was a refrigeration that he was claiming benefit for. But you know, Pavolva, Violate, the famous racehorse, Crowded House, they're all New Zealand without -- without a doubt. Russell Crowe, there's a bit of a debate around to own some.

Andrew Hammond: And wine, who's got the best wine?

Andrew Hampton: Oh, I think New Zealand has the best wine, as well.

Andrew Hammond: Okay, thanks ever so much for your time. I really appreciate you speaking to me.

Andrew Hampton: Yeah, thank you, Andrew. It's been a great opportunity to talk with you and with your listeners.

Andrew Hammond: Thanks for listening to this episode of SpyCast. Please follow us on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have feedback, you can reach us by email at spyCast@spymuseum.org or on Twitter, @intl.spycast. If you go to our page at thecyberwire.com /podcast/spycast, you can find links to further resources, detailed show notes, and full transcripts. I'm your host, Andrew Hammond. My podcast content partner is Erin Dietrick. The rest of the team involved in the show is Mike Mincey, Memphis Vaughn III, Emily Coletta, Emily Rens, Ariel Samuel, Afua Anokwa, Elliott Peltzman, Tré Hester, and Jen Eiben. This show is brought to you from the home of the world's preeminent collection of intelligence and espionage-related artifacts, the International Spy Museum.